Another controversial call helps Patriots deal big blow to Bills playoff hopes
|Maddie Meyer/Getty Images|
But once again, the big story is a controversial call that went in the Pats' favor. Kelvin Benjamin appeared to make a ridiculous catch in the back corner of the end zone with two seconds to go in the first half for a touchdown, but video review overturned the call after it was decided that Benjamin didn't maintain possession of the ball before he was able to get his left foot in bounds.
Unlike last week in Pittsburgh, this one looked like a touchdown. Benjamin looked to be dragging his toes on the ground with possession of the ball, but there was no definitive evidence of that. As a result, the two AFC East rivals went into the half tied at 13 as opposed to the Bills being up 17-13.
Kelvin Benjamin doesn't get credit for the TD catch. Had his foot and toe scrape but not given possession during that brief time. pic.twitter.com/7QyCvPOE1a— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) December 24, 2017
New England then rode a wave of second-half miscues by Buffalo and two big touchdowns by Mike Gillislee and Dion Lewis to pull away.
Coming off a drive that saw the Patriots take a 23-16 lead late in the third quarter by way of a big pass interference penalty by Trae Elston in the end zone, the Bills, needing an answer, opted to try and kick a 50-yard field goal that never had a chance, sailing wide right.
On the previous Buffalo drive, Tyrod Taylor was sacked by Malcom Brown on first-and-10 and lost 15 yards, which left them looking dead in the water. One more than one occasion, Taylor got himself in trouble by holding on to the football for too long, missing wide open receivers and dropping back too far to pass.
The Patriots weren't sharp in the early going either. The offense went three-and-out on its first drive and Tom Brady thew a pick-six to Jordan Poyer, which was his fifth-straight game with an interception. Despite that, Brady had a solid day. He completed 21 of 28 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a great one-handed catch by Gronk.
But it was Dion Lewis who was the story for the Patriots today. Lewis ran 24 times for 129 yards and scored one rushing touchdown while also adding five catches for 24 yards and one score. The Pats rode Lewis for much of the second half, and he continues to establish himself as the lead back.
With the win, the Patriots improve to 12-3 and will close out the regular season at home next week against the Jets.
Meanwhile, the Bills drop to 8-7 and need to win against the Dolphins next week and would also need either Baltimore or Tennessee to lose in order to get in as a wild card. They could also get in with two Tennessee losses and one loss by the LA Chargers.
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